Crews Complete Successful Fall Season

Dec. 2, 2005

After failing to reach the 2005 national championships for the first time in three seasons, the Washington State women's rowing team rebounded with one of the most successful falls in school history.

'Last year was a hitch,' said head coach Jane LaRiviere. 'We didn't do what we wanted to do, but we have some great people on this team that aren't going to let that hitch bother them. One thing that was very apparent early on was the team was willing to step it up.'

The fall season began with the team split. The varsity eight crew traveled to the Atlantic coast for the prestigious Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston, while the remaining crews ventured to Spokane for a tune-up against in-state rival Gonzaga. In Spokane, the Cougars' second and third varsity eights powered by Gonzaga's best boat to take the top two spots.

But the real spice of the weekend was at the top fall regatta in the country, the Head of the Charles. WSU's varsity eight crew stroked over the 5,000m race to a 7th place finish among collegiate competition, defeating seven of the top 10 finishers from the 2005 NCAA Championships. The placement was eight spots better than their performance at the 2004 race.

'One of our goals that no one wanted to talk about was finishing in the top-10,' LaRiviere said of the performance. 'We were really right there in the mix with some of the best schools in the country.'

Coming off the performance, the crews returned to Pullman for the annual Head of the Snake Regatta. Again, the Cougars faced the Gonzaga Bulldogs, and again WSU came away victorious. The varsity eight crew blazed by the Bulldogs, completing the 5,000m course nearly a minute ahead of Gonzaga.

The Cougars used the next two weeks to prepare for the Head of the Lake Regatta on the Montlake Cut in Seattle. The event, hosted by rival Washington, is 'the premier fall regatta west of the Mississippi,' according the LaRiviere. The field included four schools that competed in the 2005 NCAA Championships, and other four Pac-10 schools, Washington, Stanford, UCLA and Oregon State.

In a race where the top six finishers were within eight seconds of each other, WSU's varsity eight crew posted the fasted time, winning the Head of the Lake for the first time. The Cougars defeated Yale, Syracuse, Duke and Gonzaga in addition to their Pac-10 rivals. Previously, the best finish for WSU at the regatta was 2nd, achieved in 2002.

'(Winning the Head of the Lake) gives us the mental ability to imagine ourselves as being number one,' LaRiviere said. 'I think the level of expectation has been lifted up.'

The varsity eight wasn't the only successful crew in Seattle. The third varsity eight crew won its race, and the second varsity eight crew finished its race as the runner-up. The varsity four boat defeated nine crews en route to a fourth place finish.

LaRiviere played down the success of the fall season. 'We've really done nothing but stir up the hornets nest.'

The Cougars will now bundle up for winter, but continue practices with a plan to simply 'work hard,' according to LaRiviere. The spring season starts against in-state rival Gonzaga, March 25, 2006.

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